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Testimonial Golf Day preparations are going well - and Alec prepares with a few lessons!

20 March 2006

As someone who has a natural aptitude for sport, it should come as no surprise that Alec Chamberlain is a reasonable golfer.

And for all those of us who have been hacking away for years trying to make the odd par or two, it won't help to learn that he didn't take the game up until he was in his mid-20s.

"I was at Luton Town when I first started to take golf more seriously" said Alec, who is looking forward to hosting his own Testimonial Golf Day at West Herts Golf Club on April 26.

"I had messed around on driving ranges and played the odd game when I was at Colchester and Everton, but then I was introduced to John Hubbert by an ex-colleague of mine, Tony Adcock. Tony was playing for Northampton at that time, and I would get up to the County Ground to watch from time to time. After a game he introduced me to John, who is a very keen golfer and was a member of Buckingham Golf Club at that time. We arranged to have a game as I could get to Buckingham easily on the way home from training, and that started a very good friendship, and countless rounds of golf!

"Being a professional sportsman gives you that competitive edge, and I suppose the more I played, the more I was challenging myself to lower my score, and as you can imagine, there were some golfers in the dressing room, so I had to keep up with them!

"Richard Harvey, Paul Telfer, and Darren Salter were excellent golfers so I used to go and have a game with them from time to time. The late, great, Dave Bowen was another person who I played with regularly at Collingtree GC and Chapel Brampton, the County course. Dave was Keith Bowen's dad, who I played with at Colchester. He was a great footballer in his day for Arsenal and Wales, and then went on to manage Northampton Town and Wales. So he had plenty of tales to tell!"

Since arriving at Watford, Alec has been one of a number of keen golfers, and days off in the spring and autumn are often spent on the fairways. "It's a good social game, golf, and a good way of bringing the lads together for a bit of a change of scenery. There's still that competitive edge to it, but in a less pressurised situation.

Indeed, golf has given Alec one of his most treasured sporting memories.

"I've been very lucky in my football career that I've played at some of the most famous stadiums in England - Wembley, Old Trafford, Highbury and so on," said Alec. "I've also had the privilege of playing cricket at Lords - I was a budding cricketer at one stage in my younger days.

"But a couple of years ago my wife, Jane, treated me to a round of golf at St Andrews, up in Scotland, for a birthday present. I went up there with some friends, including Nigel Gibbs and Heider Helguson from Watford, for a long weekend, and we had a terrific time.

"It's a wonderful experience, a fantastic golfing tradition, and of course as you walk around the course you cannot help but think of some of the great golfers that have played there in the past, and some of the fantastic moments of history associated with The Open championship."

Alec has a great respect for the top golfers, and says he never ceases to be full of respect for the consistently high standards of the professionals.

"Obviously, of the current players, Tiger Woods is something else, and it's wonderful watching him launch an attack on the leaderboard, or just playing the game to such a high standard that his rivals are having to raise their standards to compete.

"But I'm full of admiration for Colin Montgomerie, who is still there winning titles and Order of Merits into his 40s, and if anyone deserves to win one of the big tournaments - the Majors - then he does," said Alec.

"I was also a fan of Nick Faldo for his single minded approach. It must have been so intimidating playing alongside him when he was at his peak: I think back to the Masters of 1996, when Greg Norman was way out in front going into the final day, but Faldo kept his nerve while Norman lost his, and won the title. Fantastic sporting drama."

And with Spring upon us, the Chamberlain golf clubs are being dusted down ready for another season.

"Obviously I'll want to play well at the Testimonial Golf Day, so I'll be getting some practice in," said Alec. "I have to confess I've been having some lessons recently at Collingtree Golf Club, near where I live in Northampton. My game needs a little bit of fine tuning, and if I can get a few good scores this summer then it will be worthwhile."

But when you see Alec teeing off on April 26 don't expect miracles!

"The first three lessons have gone ok but it's so difficult to change from the bad habits that have been repeated time and again," he said. "I'm not sure what state my game will be in, but I know that the main object of the day will be for everyone to have enjoyed it.

"It's a day to enjoy yourself not to compare yourself, and even if you do have one of those days, just remember you can forget about it in the clubhouse afterwards, because we've got a fantastic meal lined up with the prize giving. There will be a few auction items and raffle, so it's going to be a good fun day.

"As usual the Testimonial Committee have been working hard on this event and I'm very grateful to Nicki Hattingh who is taking calls on 07780 921969 from anyone who wishes to apply to take part in the golf day. Early indications are that there has been a lot of interest and I would like to thank everyone who is supporting this event."

Written by Peter Jones, of the PR consultancy Red Alert Media.

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